I began using a serum containing bakuchiol about a year ago in an attempt to help ease the redness and irritation effects I was experiencing from most of the retinoid products I used. When Euro Botanicals added our plant based Vitamin A Serum and Creme I eagerly added those to my arsenal. This potent little herb is showing its ability more and more as a viable alternative to retinol - and without the side effects.
This article by Lauren Snow explains the origins of the bakuchiol herb (Ayurveda) and discusses how products containing this potent little ingredient could find their way into your skincare.
What if the most effective anti-aging and acne-fighting ingredients has been hidden under our noses for thousands of years? That may be the case for bakuchiol, a meek but mighty alternative to retinol.
This indigenous plant, psoralea corylifolia, grows in India's semi-arid cimate and has also been found in the Himalayas. The plant and its seeds have been used as remedy by the Hindi people of India for centuries.
What is bakuchiol?
In Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu system of medicine, the babchi plant holds an impressive resume as one of the most trusted herbs. Because of its diverse and prevailing ailment-fighting properties, the plant is purported to be a therapy for a range of diseases across nearly all systems of the human body. The Babchi plant is currently being extensively studied in pharmacology for its chemoprotective, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
The seeds and oil from the Babchi plant are particularly interesting for esthetic purposes. They are called Kushtaghni in Ayurveda, which means "skin disease remedy." For thousands of years, it has been used topically for the treatment of ringworm, scabies, eczema, dermatitis and even vitiligo - a condition that suppresses melanin production.
Bakuchiol, a compound extracted from the seeds and leaves of the Babchi plant is gaining momentum as the gentler alternative to retinol. It shares no structural resemblance to retinoids, but it does share the spotlight in efficacy. A landmark study conducted by the Society of Cosmetic Scientists showed two important outcomes: 1. bakuchiol can be considered a viable (and natural) alternative to retinol, and 2. this gentle giant can perform like retinol but without the undesirable side effects.
Like Retinol - But Gentler
Retinoids is a generic term that refers to vitamin A and several molecular variations derived from it. They have become the gold standard in fighting acne and anti-aging, as the skin is incredibly responsive to them. Topical use has been heavily studied, with clinical outcomes showing marked reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, diminished hyperpigmentation, and skin smoothness. Retinol aggressively stimulates the cell turnover process and collagen production, but the work comes at a cost. The host of side effects requires the user to grin and bear it until the skin builds up a tolerance to its use. Red, flaky, irritated and extremely photo-sensitive skin that is painful and can be unsightly is what nearly all users must go through during the desensitization phase.
Bakuchiol, however, delivers results without the discomfort. In the Society of Cosmetic Scientists' study, results showed that after 12 weeks of using bakuchiol, "significant improvement in lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, elasticity, firmness, and overall reduction in photo-damage was observed without the usual retinol effects." It is a dream for those with sensitive skin and those who don't want to undergo the "awkward phase" of angry, red skin.
Big beauty brands are jumping on the bakuchiol bandwagon including Sephora, Nordstrom and Ulta. Bakuchiol is bottled to use topically just as you would use a retinol and is available in creams, serums and moisturizers. You can expect to see many professional skincare lines taking on their own research and development to formulate products that contain bakuchiol soon.